What does one remember after the years speed by? What lurks in our subconscious that manifests itself when Dementia plays its tricks with one’s memory? Hubby’s relationship with my parents (of blessed memory) was complicated.
My father had looked forward to my marrying so that he could have a son he could “advise and guide “ When I married Hubby, both parents went into a tailspin. Hubby was only one year younger than my mother. He was 7 years younger than my father. Dad did not acquire a “son” but a fully developed, successful, self-confident man who knew what he wanted in life and how he planned to achieve it. Dad was confused and conflicted as to how to relate to this dynamo who was not the least bit in need in his fatherly advice. After all, what does a man whose only travel experiences were in the Navy…know of the big, bad world? Compared to Hubby who had designed women’s fashion collections in Paris, London and Rome…the scales were totally out of balance. Exciting for me. Intimidating for Dad. Intriguing for Mom (who adored the world of fashion, as did I.)
Mother also had issues with hubby. He was a bit too high-powered for her and our family dynamics became quite complicated. She had to placate her own husband and still have a viable relationship with their only daughter – (moi), and her new husband.
Fast-forward to today. Hubby’s current and recurring memory of my mother, AKA-his mother-in-law, is without any reasonable explanation.
On at least ten occasions over the past year, Hubby has confided in me the following story: “Did you know that your mother came to me and said that she and I had been married to one another in the past? I told her- You must be crazy!” According to this fantasy, my mother was not referring to a past life, but the current one. Hubby did have two wives prior to marrying “moi”, but neither of them was my mother… thank heavens!
The story is strange on more than one level. Why Hubby should think this happened puzzles me. Perhaps he has my mother confused with his wife #2, whom he married as a favor (another story for another time) for a very short while? I doubt that he remembers her very well after fifty years, so perhaps he is thinking of her when he mentions my mother? I sometimes wonder if my mother looked similar to Hubby’s first wife and whether his memory is mixing up those two . Hubby has not mentioned wife #1 since his dementia began about nine years ago…They were married only 18 years, and we have been married for almost 50. That part of his life has receded into the distance. Perhaps in his mind’s eye he is visualizing someone else completely. Still, the story makes little sense. The exactitude with which Hubby recounts this story each time, is discomforting. It seems that each time he re-tells it, he re-solidifies its truth in his mind. Thus, you guessed it… I am the now crazy one who does not “believe him.” There is no reason to refute the story each time he reveals it. This memory is written on stone tablets (similar in weight to the ten commandments…), somewhere in his brain. He thinks that it is a humorous event. He smiles each time he tells me about it. I find it a bit more than mildly irritating.
Hubby’s success with women was legend. Fashion designers with their models… glamour and opportunity. Apparently the models were very affectionate because Hubby as the designer, decided who would be hired for the important Fashion Shows. He always claimed that he never took advantage…”of this advantage.” But then, Hubby’s past was longer than mine by twenty years and he had a full, flamboyant and exciting past.
Fortunately for me, I met Hubby after life-sobering events took him to a new and more mature chapter in his life.
Even so, Hubby still seems to think, at the age of 95… that the lovely ladies are lining up for him, and that my mother (of blessed memory)- was once at the front of the queue! Dementia creates its own reality, and we on the “outside-looking in” must be the ones to navigate its world of fantasy.